In the last post, I showed you how I updated my small laundry room.
The update with the biggest impact was by far my herringbone brick tile floor. You guys, I’m absolutely in love with this floor! I did this project 100% by myself and you can too. Tiling can be very intimidating but it is generally fairly simple. It is a lot of work, though.
Let’s dive into my tiles. During my many internet searches for the best deal, I came across the Colonial Collection from Old Mill Bricks.
This is a thin brick system which makes them perfect for putting them on the floor or on your wall. They are mainly marketed for walls but I have had them in place on my floor for about 4 months now and I have had zero problems. The bricks are individually kiln fired and are about half an inch thick. They also have a series called Brick Web where the bricks are attached to webbing to make them easier to line up. Twelve different color blends are available and I chose to go with the Castle Gate blend.
The bricks come 50 to a box and cover approximately 7 square feet (this is also dependent on your grout lines). It is suggested that you purchase an extra 10% to account for breaks, awkward cuts, and waste. My space is 36 square feet so I purchased 6 boxes. I was left with less than 10 full tiles when I was finished. The tiles have to be ordered online and can be done through Home Depot or Lowe’s. If you are unsure about a color blend, you have the option of ordering a sample pack (3 tiles) for around $5-6 each. None of the tiles were broken when I got them which is a huge plus!
If you remember, this was my inspiration picture. I have been drooling over this picture for a long time and was so excited to finally be recreating it!
When I moved into this house, the floor had linoleum. Within a year, it had to be ripped up due to an unfortunate dog sitting incident (the dog tore a big ol’ hole in the floor…). Peel and stick tiles were used as a “temporary” replacement but they hung around for seven years. Seven years!
My first step was to remove my baseboards. These were crazy easy to remove because they were barely attached to the wall. As I renovate this house, it’s increasingly apparent to me how many shortcuts were taken. Look at how far away from the wall this baseboard is!!
There was never even an attempt to caulk the gap! I simply put a prybar in the huge gaps and pulled them off the wall. If your baseboards have been properly installed and/or have been painted over, I would recommend running a utility knife along the top edge to break the seal and make them easier to come off without damaging the wall. If the baseboards have been glued to the wall…good luck.
Once they came off, I started prying up the tiles. I used a smaller pry bar to wedge under the tiles and worked it around. Sometimes I needed to use a rubber mallet to give the tile a little encouragement to come up. I could have just tiled over the top of the peel and stick tiles but some were beginning to come up and, even though it’s a minor difference, it would have affected opening the doors in the room.
Some of the tiles came up very easy and in one piece. Others were still really stuck, even after seven years, and took some work.
I can’t leave out a picture of my ever present and ever happy “helper”.
It took me a few hours but I finally got all of the peel and stick tile up.
Before I started laying down tile, I knew that I would have to adjust the door trim to allow the tiles to sit flush with the wall. I got a piece of standard cardboard, likely from one of my many Amazon boxes, and laid it on the floor to account for the space my mastic/tile adhesive was going to take up. I placed a tile on top of the cardboard next to my door trim. Using a pencil, I made a mark above the tile where I would need to cut the trim.
There are several different ways to cut the trim away. I chose to use an oscillating multi-tool. The specific one I used was a Rockwell Sonicrafter X2 with a wood end cut blade.
Oscillating multi-tools are pretty straight-forward and easy to use. There are a ton of accessories for these and you can use them for so many different applications. For this task, just put the blade on your line, turn it on, and go to town. It makes very quick work of cutting these pieces off. (You can see more dog damage to the door trim. I’m actually not sure if this was from the dog sitting, my dogs, or the previous owners dog. Ha!)
When you get the trim piece cleared away, slide your tile under it while on top of the cardboard to make sure it fits easily.
When laying any pattern of tile, it is recommended to start in the middle and work your way out. The laundry room is square so it wasn’t difficult to find the middle. I used a chalk line to find my middle. Using a chalk line by yourself can be very hard. I stretched it from one corner to the opposite diagonal corner and popped the string. I then did the same thing for the other two corners. Where they crossed was my middle.
Since I was going to be moving over the floor a lot and the risk of wiping away the chalk marks was high, I used my RevMark marker to mark the center point.
All the prep work is done. Are you finally ready to tile?? Let’s get to it!
You will need mastic/tile adhesive/thinset/mortar to secure the tiles to the floor. There are options to mix your own or you can buy a pre-mixed version. The pre-mixed is more expensive but there is no question about it being mixed correctly. I had half a bucket left over from my first tile project nearly a year prior and it was still in great condition. I used Mapei Type 1 tile adhesive.
I wanted a border around the room so I started with it before getting to the herringbone pattern. You can either apply the mastic to the tile or to the floor. In my opinion, it’s just simply your preference. You need to add enough to get the tile to stick but not so much that it squeezes up around the sides of the tile. You’ll need to use a notched tile trowel to apply the mastic. There are a few different colors in this blend and you’ll want a random pattern. I grabbed several tiles from different boxes and placed them making sure not to put too many of the same color next to each other.
There are several options for your grout lines that are totally dependent on your preferences. You can but the tiles up next to each other or use tile spacers. I used 1/8th inch spacers for my tiles. You’d be surprised at how big an 1/8th inch is. I would suggest that if you are in doubt between sizes, go with the smaller one.
Despite the appearance to the naked eye, rooms are not always perfectly square. Especially on some patterns, like my border, you will need to ensure that your tiles are laying straight and not angling as you go. This can easily be done with a speed square or carpenters square as you go along.
After installing my border, I left it to dry so I did not disturb the tile while working on the herringbone part. You can see in this picture that I added painters tape to the carpet where it met the laundry room. This kept the mastic and grout from getting on it.
When it was time to start on the herringbone pattern, I chose to apply the mastic directly to the tile so that I didn’t cover up my center marks. This was a bit too much mastic.
Next, just lay it down and line it up with your mark. Then lay down your second tile to begin the pattern. I used my speed square to make sure I kept a 45 degree angle on the tiles.
These tiles are uneven with dips and chips by nature but, as with any tile job, you’ll want to make your mastic layer as even as possible so your tiles lay evenly. As you’re laying down the tile, be sure to pay attention to the pattern. It’s easier than you think to lay one down wrong. The last thing you want is to finish and realize you got one (or more) wrong.
Before long, you’re going to have to start cutting the tiles to fit into the smaller spaces. The first time I tiled, this was the biggest intimidator. It was also the first time I operated a power saw. Since then, I have used a saw more times than I can count. Trust me, folks, this is not hard! Just be aware of your fingers as you are cutting tiles. Using a tile saw is also very messy. You must use water and it sprays out so make sure you are in a space that you don’t mind getting messy. If you don’t want to purchase a tile saw, you can rent one. I was fortunate that my dad had a tile saw (he said it was inexpensive to purchase). Another option is a tile cutter but they are better for porcelain tile and don’t work well on brick/stone.
The water tray is underneath the saw top and needs to be kept full. If you start noticing less water and more tile dust coming out at you, you need to add water.
To mark my cut lines, I used a wax pencil.
I simply laid the tile where I wanted it to set (don’t forget to take into account your grout lines!) and made a mark across the tile at the angle it needed cut. When you get to the saw, just line up your mark with the blade and push the tile through.
You can check the fit to make sure it doesn’t need to be cut down anymore. Once you are sure, put some mastic on the back and lay it into place.
Be sure to save your off cuts because you might need them to fit into some of the other spaces.
You can see that my line of cut tiles along the border isn’t very straight. I’m not too concerned about that because 1) grout will make it look better and 2) I’m going for a rustic, worn look and rustic isn’t perfect. If you were using a cleaner, more uniform tile, you would definitely want to make sure your lines are straight.
Before long, you’ll have the whole floor done. Once it is complete, I left it alone for a bit to let the mastic set up some. If I tried to do the next step without letting it set, my tiles would move out of place.
Because I’m no tiler by trade, I sometimes had too much mastic on my tiles and it squished up between them.
I used a scraper with a point on it (some call it a paint multi-tool) to clean up the excess mastic.
I ran the pointed end along the sides of the bricks and picked out the mastic.
I also used this little brush to help clean up some of the mastic that got on top of the tile. A wire brush would work as well. Once you’re satisfied with your cleaning job, let it all sit and harden.
Now it’s time for the really fun part! (I am absolutely, without a doubt, completely lying right now.) Grouting! Like the mastic, you can choose to mix your own or buy a pre-mixed. The first time I tried my own, I mixed it myself. I did this because the color of grout I wanted wasn’t available in the pre-mixed variety. If you do mix it yourself, I highly recommend mixing in a liquid grout additive instead of water. This essentially takes out a step at the end of sealing your grout. The last time I tiled, I used Mapei Grout Maximizer. By the time you purchase grout mix and the additive, the cost is about the same as the pre-mixed grout unless you are only doing a small amount.
If you use the pre-mixed version, the sealer is already in it. I used pre-mixed this time because the color I wanted was available. I used the Mapei Flexcolor CQ grout in Warm Gray. When the grout dried, it was more white than gray.
My bucket of pre-mixed grout did not say if it was sanded grout or not but it is. Depending on your project, you will need either sanded or unsanded grout. Unsanded grout is great for wall applications where the grout line is less than 1/8th inch. You need sanded for anything over that or for floor applications.
You guys, cleaning up grout is the worst. Even more so on texture, porous tile. I had read a few things about people using grout bags to apply the grout instead of a trowel. The online reviews of a few grout bags were less than favorable but I thought I would give it a try anyway. A grout bag essentially looks like a cake icing bag.
I cut an angled hole in the bag and put a couple scoops of grout in it. Like you would on a cake, I attempted to apply the grout to the spaces between the tiles. It just wasn’t working. Not enough was coming out and I didn’t want to make the hole too big. I was told by some great Instagram friends that if the grout is a little soupier, it works better but the bags are generally pretty difficult to work with.
I fiddled with it for about five minutes then gave up. I switched to a trowel and tried my best to purposefully place the grout between the tiles and smush it into place with my fingers.
I did a small stretch at a time then went back to the portions that had time to set up some. Using a sponge and a bucket of water, I began to clean up the excess grout.
You will end up wiping down the tiles many, many times before you are finished. Have at least two sponges just in case.
In between cleanings, I would also use the little brush I showed earlier to help clean the grout off of the tile.
The brush helped take it from this:
Just keep working across the space until you finish. I probably should have mentioned this earlier but I highly recommend a pair of knee pads for this part. Cheap tiling tool kits are available with them in it. You will just need something because your knees will hate you after grouting a floor.
I got this close to being done…
…when I ran out of grout. Believe me, I tried stretching every bit I could by scooping out the extra grout from my cleaning bucket and squeezing out the extra water. It just wasn’t enough. I could have purchased unmixed grout and mixed only a small amount but I didn’t want to worry about the consistency not matching so I went ahead and purchased another bucket of grout.
Before long, I had the whole floor grouted and cleaned. From there, I just had to let it set and harden. Just before it was completely set, I took a wire brush over everything to help knock any loose grout out of the way. Not that the tiles were rough, but this also help smooth them some. Be forewarned, there will be sand everywhere.
Once I was sure everything was set, I swept and mopped the floor one more time then began reattaching the baseboards with my nail gun.
When they were all back in place, I filled all of the nail holes with filler and taped off the top and bottom so the boards could be caulked and painted. For caulking, I like to use the Dap squeeze tubes. They make caulk for so many different purposes so check the tubes thoroughly to ensure that they will work for your project and are paintable if you will be painting the area.
You’ll have to cut the tip off of the tube before you use it. Be sure to make your cut at an angle. They have little marks to help guide your cuts. You typically don’t need a super large hole.
When the tube it open, just run a bead of caulk along the top of the baseboard.
To clean up the caulk, you can use your finger or a wet rag along it. The way I prefer is to use a caulking tool which allows you to sort of customize how you want the caulk to look and leave a clean seal. There are many different types.
I prefer to use the 90 degree corners but any of them would do. As you run it along the baseboard, you will need to have a paper towel or rag handy to clean off the tool. The excess caulk builds up on it quickly.
Remember the big gaps between my walls and baseboards?
Here’s what the magic of caulk can do to gaps this awful:
Don’t forget to run a little caulk in the corners where the boards meet up. Let the caulk dry then paint over your boards. Be cautious of letting the tape set too long on the caulk otherwise it could pull it up as you remove the tape. You can also use a utility knife to score the top of the boards so it won’t rip up.
It’s finally done!! This took me about three to four days working on it in spurts. Because I already had the mastic and most of the tools I would need, this project cost me about $450 which was for the tile and two gallons of grout. It may seem a bit pricy but it is significantly cheaper to do it yourself as opposed to hiring it out.
Because we all like to wrap up with pretty pictures, here’s the room all put together again.
One more thing about this tile, it’s smooth and not cold on your bare feet. Two very important factors to me.
Are you brave enough to tackle your own tiling job? Is there a project you’ve been dying to try? I want to hear about it!
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